June 13, 2021

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Review of Jenny Oville's novel "Whittier" - Culture

Review of Jenny Oville’s novel “Whittier” – Culture

For once, let’s start from the back: What if things went differently last fall? Trump could have won. Then we must continue to live with his obsessive act of destruction and the daily terror of Twitter. This book comes from the internal siege phase, a time when he was likely to be reelected, and many contemplate in bewilderment, and even panic, how to stay sane in such a hostile environment. Once, her husband visits relatives, Lizzie meets an attractive French Canadian character at a bar in New York. Will is a war reporter who passes by and asks: America is usually a safe and quiet haven where he gets rid of all the chaos, brutality and devastation of war. This time, on the other hand, she appears to be at her workplace. “Before you start.”

So Lizzie. Lizzie Benson. A librarian in Brooklyn. However, a “wild librarian”, who changed her career after leaving the university, some of her colleagues made her feel that way all the time, with subtle and sharp comments. Serving the visitors, the blonde girl with chewing nails, who always stole toilet paper by hand, the guy who’s been working on his thesis for 12 years, or in the morning, in the first paragraph of the book, “Pretty much an enlightened one. There are different stages, and you think it’s in The penultimate stage. This stage can only be described in a Japanese phrase. It reads “A bucket full of black paint” https://www.sueddeutsche.de/kultur/.

The novel anchors early on in the collective unconscious of this entire country

However, Lizzie’s real job is to take care of everyone around her, her angry husband who once studied ancient languages ​​but is now stuck with some computer job. About their son Ellie, about their vulnerable mother and brother Henry, a former addict trying to get clean and get lost in a totally toxic relationship. Lizzie tries hard to have a decent life in the midst of all these constant maneuvers, but her narcissistic side has not been developed well enough to earn any ethical credit points for doing so.

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Her former teacher Sylvia got a job at the library, and she is very fond of it. Sylvia runs the successful blog “Come What May”, in which she deals with the consequences of climate change. No longer able to handle the many messages, she asks Lizzie for her help, and so the novel anchors early in the collective unconscious of an entire country: preparations, prophecies, orators, climate change deniers, and anxious mothers. Some ask crazy things, interpret the Bible, or tell the superstitious nonsense of their community. Others write of their utter frustration in the face of political ignorance on the one hand and the inescapable dark magnitude of the topic on the other. How do you interact with each one?

Trump and the great domestic political dislocation in the Grand Canyon, plus the looming climate change and initial fear of it, slowly spreading over the entire text like a huge, bleak low pressure front. This sounds like a difficult novel, major sermons and serious digressions. The opposite is true.

Jenny Oville: The Weather. a novel. From American English by Melanie Walls. Piper Verlag, Munich 2021.224 pages, 20 €.

Don Delillo once spoke of “the infinity of grains of sand for the things that no one can count,” the confusing abundance of everyday life that flows through us every day. New York author Jenny Oville carries a gorgeous sieve of all of these subtle moments and collects interesting scenes. The whole book is arranged in short paragraphs Kwan: ​​“One morning a student explains to me that failure is not an option and it bothers me when I have to laugh. I tell her,“ Hey, I have planned one time too! Big plans! , Medium sized at least. Staring at me. You say, “Sorry?” When I went, I would quickly go to the bathroom to make sure there was no lipstick on my teeth.

All puzzle pieces do not give a coherent picture, on the contrary, one initially thinks that someone has spilled out a paper that looks like a diary: surprising snippets of conversation, encounters in the library office, notes at the supermarket, and blog letters. On the one hand, one notices from the first page that these moments seem so informal and light because they have been preserved so meticulously (Jenny Oville once said in an interview that editing and review meant for her primarily “weight loss”).

So she reads through the daily life of this woman, about which her brother says she “dresses like a little inconspicuous bird.” The reading pages slowly grow upward like a sediment, and slowly a miracle occurs.

American critics have rebuked their reviews

American critics have rebuked their reviews. I don’t have to go any further than Ocean Vuong, who claimed in a publicity that the book was cool, “We are neither ready nor deserving of it,” but the individual pieces of mosaic make up a shimmering panorama of moods and vibrations, a wonderful testament to a confusing, dark, distracting, and pathetic time Start ; Offill’s skeptical sense of humor protects against this, but is so subtly formed that it seems that some kind of electrostatic tension often appears between individual paragraphs.

Lizzie once said that she has always been obsessed with “lost books, all those that were only half written or put together in parts.” It doesn’t explain why this is, but anyone who can get something out of these partial scattered texts should be prepared to do a lot of supplemental work on their own. In addition, one observes more and more the appropriateness of this type of narration: how is a continuum of meaning or claim created, if it is clear that everything, really everything that consists of our coordinates has eroded anyway? From the blog: “Question: How can I better prepare my children for the upcoming mess? – Answer: You can teach them to sew, plant, and build. But techniques that help calm a fearful soul may be the most beneficial.”

At some point, Sylvia gives up on teaching as well as her blog, and moves to the desert. Will, war reporter, going to Canada, the United States is too bleak for him. Lizzie remains. In central Brooklyn, the mayor consults with Dutch dam experts on how to defend the city against rising sea levels. In the middle of her destroyed little life. Sure, also since running on the bus is already too much for her, how can she survive as ready somewhere in the vast expanse of Montana. But also because there must be those who continue to care about their whereabouts.